Here at 99% Fit, we advocate what can best be described as an individualized approach to fitness. A successful, sustainable fitness habit is one that integrates the unique goals, priorities and challenges that each person possesses.
This is a part of why we tend to give a little side-eye to fitness fads, programs, diets, and the like. While many of them contain tenants that can certainly put people on the road to stronger, healthier bodies, their all-or-nothing philosophies coupled with their fixation on a physical end result often send messages that aren’t particularly helpful and often perpetuate the negative aspects of fitness culture.
One fitness program that we take particular issue with is Kayla Itsines’s BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program. In true 2016 blogging fashion, here’s a list of three reasons why:
1) Look no further than the name of Itsines’ program to see why it’s Capital P Problematic. Straightaway, it’s telling participants (women, specifically) that you need to look a certain way in order to wear a bikini. Fortunately, body positive activists have started to speak out against this dogma, but when you consider that the BBG app was the most downloaded app of 2015 and has a community estimated at 25 million people globally, it’s clear to see that these counter culture body messages are still barely a whisper in the overall conversation.
2) Itsines claims that “empowerment” comes in the form of a thinner, more toned body. Again, we believe whole heartedly that physical activity can improve your mental and physical wellbeing, but that certainly does NOT have to be tied to having six pack abs or cellulite free legs (this blogger will even freely admit to you that she has a stubborn bit of cellulite that has stuck with her since puberty). Here’s a particularly hilarious sentence from the Bloomberg article that encapsulates this core piece of the program: “Itsines offers a message that isn’t about abstention. It’s about feeling happy: A flat stomach boosts your confidence.” The idea that this journalist thinks that tying a thin body to confidence is all that different, let alone more positive than telling women to restrict and deny themselves food is troubling, to say the least.
3) The BBG guide’s approach to diet is probably the least offensive of all its components – it doesn’t focus on calorie counting and emphasizes a diet full of healthy proteins, fats, and vegetables, which has a good bit of scientific validation as a healthy way to eat. That said… Itsines doesn’t drink and tells her followers that alcohol is “poison.” Now, people are free to abstain from alcohol, but to give alcohol such an extreme label (when there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that some alcohol, imbibed in moderation, can have health benefits) is a bit weird, and seems to go against her messages that’s “not about abstention.”
In conclusion: when approaching any fitness plan or program, remember to review it with a highly critical eye, and try not to feel pressured into adhering to it wholesale. Fitness programs are A way to move towards a healthier life, not THE way – and if one is advocating that you’re not good enough the way you are to wear a certain article of clothing, then it’s probably not good enough for you and your path to a healthier life.